Celebrated historical films such as Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X,” Steven Spielberg’s “Amistad” and Ava DuVernay’s “Selma” all share one secret weapon. And she would be Oscar- and Emmy-nominated costume designer Ruth E. Carter.
With a knack for historical research and a sharp eye for detail, Carter is known for designing impeccable period costumes that help transport moviegoers to bygone eras. And with her work on Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther,” Carter proved that her vision for futuristic fashion is just as keen.
Now, she’s being recognized for a career in costuming that dates back three decades. The Costume Designers Guild announced Tuesday that Carter will be honored with the Career Achievement Award at the 21st Costume Designers Guild Awards on Feb. 19.
With her 1993 Academy Award nod for “Malcolm X,” Carter became the first African American to be nominated for costume design. She was nominated again for “Amistad” and also earned an Emmy nomination for the 2016 reboot of “Roots.”
Carter has worked on nearly a dozen Spike Lee films — constructing campus garb from historically black colleges and universities for “School Daze” and infusing “Crooklyn” with vibrant, nostalgic ’70s flair. Ensemble casts in movies such as “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” “Marshall” and “Love & Basketball” have all donned Carter’s creations. And she helped Angela Bassett transform from the figure-flaunting titular character in “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” to her Tina Turner-mirroring role in “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” and, most recently, the regal Queen Ramonda of Wakanda.
Carter also has worked on the upcoming film “Dolemite Is My Name,” which stars Eddie Murphy.
Her costume exhibition, “Heroes & Sheroes: The Art and Influence of Ruth E. Carter in Black Cinema,” is currently on display in Pittsburgh, and it will make its debut at FIDM in Los Angeles in February.
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